I like this part of making fruit jewelry a little more than the first. However, get your big girl/boy pants on, because this part takes more precision.
If you’d like to start from the beginning of this tutorial series, click here!
Clear spray paint
Resin & Hardener
3-4 Plastic 1 oz. cups
Popsicle sticks or Chopsticks
Is the Fruit Dry?
Not taking proper care and having patience with this part has ruined so many of my fruit necklaces. If your fruit is not dry enough, the juices left in the fruit slice will cause the fruit to literally go bad even after it is coated in the sealed plastic. It smells bad and turns ugly colors. I have a kiwi from the first time I ever made these, and it’s definitely in the top five ugliest earrings I have ever seen. If I end up finding it I will add a photo…
The following photos are both of lemon slices cured in resin. The darker lemon was not proper treated with corn starch and also was not left in the dehydrator for long enough. It definitely went bad…. It doesn’t smell or fall apart, but it definitely doesn’t look as nice. The square pendant is a properly treated and dehydrated lemon. Very big difference.
Being cautious about undried fruit carries especially true for the oranges. If your slices are rather thick, it will take quite a bit of time for them to completely dry. If they are squishy, for lack of a better term, even after 4 days in the dehydrator, then I’d give up and try some thinner slices. (I get really impatient while waiting for the fruit to finish drying, so I’ve never gotten past the fourth day of waiting).
On the other hand, if the fruit is left in the dehydrator for too long it will full on cook. It will be brown and crispy before you even get started with Day Two. Lemon’s that are cooked tend to get very fragile and flaky. They will fall apart when you take them off of the dehydrating tray. Kiwis are the ones to definitely keep an eye on. Once they are finished drying, an extra couple of hours in the machine will turn them quite brown. Everything eventually shrivels up and turns brown.
This star fruit was particularly crisp when it came out of the dehydrator, but I preserved it anyway.
So keep ya eyes out for the fruit.
The perfect ones look like this! The original color from when they are freshly sliced is preserved. It’s a big personal victory, as silly as it is.
Seal the Pores
Even though they are as dry as we can get them without lighting them on fire, the dried fruit slices still have bits of moisture and natural chemicals left in them that will react with the resin. So we gotta do something about it.
This is very easy, although I probably don’t do it the “right” way (aka the most thorough way). I am broke! You can order a can of resin sealant spray that is likely very similar to clear spray paint. Either way, sealing the dehydrated slices is an important step.
Set the slices on wax paper and whatever surface you don’t care about ruining. I did this in my garage with a big table cloth we use for crafts underneath of it.
Spray all of the slices quite thoroughly so they appear wet. Once they are dry to the touch, flip them over and do the same to the other side.
Prepare Mold for Resin
Get your silicone mold. I just use a silicone cupcake baking pan that I got from AC Moore for like $11. Rubber ice cube trays are another option if you find ones that are flexible enough.
You can order real resin molds online that are specifically made for making jewelry. The real molds make the finished product turn out completely shiny on all sides, which is important if you are making rings, bracelets or something that needs a complete 3D mold. The side of the fruit pendant turns out a little cloudy with my mold, but I’m okay with that!
Cut the slices of sealed fruit into the shape of your mold. I make mine to cover as much of the mold surface as possible. With the mold I have been using, the skin/rind/crust (whatever) ends up being cut off of the fruit slice. Sometimes the skin ends up wrinkling and shriveling in the drying process anyway. There aren’t really any rules to this part though! Just make sure the pieces of fruit do indeed fit into the bottom of the mold.
*A Note About Prepping Molds – they manufacture sprays to treat molds and prepare them for resin casting. Supposedly this makes the solidified product easier to remove from the mold. I have used molds both with and without the spray treatment, and to be completely honest I don’t see a different between the final products. It’s a good idea to use it just in case, but I’m not totally sold on it.
Okay, resin mixing is not anywhere near as hard as astrophysics or bioengineering, but it is a chemical reaction! You gotta take it a little more seriously than Modge Podge.
You do not want to get this stuff on any of your clothes, hands, or really anything else important to you. It’s pretty much permanent on anything that isn’t your skin and wax paper. (Thank god or half of my fingers would be casted in resin at this point)
I use a plastic tray and wax paper as my surface. Follow the instructions on your resin kit to the T. The resin to hardener ratio really completely depends on the brand of resin you are using, but the stirring time is usually 60 seconds for all of them. Use the popsicle sticks or tongue depressors to mix, scraping the sides and the bottom a couple of times during the process. It’s important that all of the resin is able to react with the hardener, and if not the project will never completely solidify. Disposable liquid medicine cups are perfect for measuring the parts before mixing. I also always pour the mixture into a new cup after the 60 seconds as a fail-safe.
The only other advice I have is to work quickly after it’s been mixed.
The unhardened resin mixture is goopy but still easy enough to pour from a cup into the mold. I first pour a penny-sized amount into the bottom of however many molds I am using. Then I pick the fruit disks up with either popsicle sticks or throw away chopsticks, and push it down into the puddle of resin so that it just starts to seep up the sides of the slice. I do this for all of the molds before I pour anymore resin.
Once all of your fruit slices are in the mold on top of the first pour of resin, pour another layer on top. I usually fill the second layer enough so that the texture of the fruit is below the surface of the resin.
Again depending on the type of resin you use, or if you have mixed your resin thoroughly enough with the right ratio, these pendants will take a while to cure. Resin doesn’t really “dry”. Airflow, temperature, or environmental factors don’t necessarily effect the curing process. It is a chemical reaction between the hardener and the resin. You don’t need to turn on any fans, put it in the freezer or oven, or do anything at all except for put the curing molds in a room far away from where you sleep (it stinks up the house). Outside is also not the best idea… Just make sure no little ones or pets can get their hands/paws on it. That would be pretty annoying, I would imagine.
That’s it for the messy parts. After these have finished drying, you will have your hopefully
okay looking perfect fruit pendants. I will make one more post about how to attach the pendants to jewelry findings, along with examples of all of my finished products.